Friedrich requires his Cresa brokers to be hunters

August 19, 2013

Southern California life may be laid-back, but at the San Diego office of Cresa Corporate Real Estate, the 12 brokers don't do laid-back.

"You have to come in every day realizing you're going to have to look for business," said Glenn Friedrich, managing principal. "You have to have a hunter's mentality."

Not everyone does.

"I think people are either wired that way or they're not. It's extremely competitive and getting more competitive," he added.

Cresa, the largest pure tenant representation firm in the U.S. with 58 offices nationwide, has proven itself up to the competition.

The 20-year-old company completed 8,100 transactions last year. Combined leases were valued at $7.8 billion.

While the San Diego office, which opened nearly six years ago, functions as part of the larger Cresa network, "the lion's share of our business is still the local San Diego company," Friedrich said.

Among them have been the ATA Engineering consulting firm and Bycor General Contractors.

The San Diego Cresa office has also been closely involved in the expansion of LPL Financial's (Nasdaq: LPLA) presence in the area; the latter involved 415,000 square feet.

Other client projects, Friedrich said, can be as modest as a 3,000-square-foot space for an insurance company.

Friedrich touts the firm's tenant-focused business, as opposed to a full-service brokerage, in building Cresa's success.

"We only represent the end user of space," he explained. "It's important to a lot of our users because there's an inherent conflict of interest when you try to represent both sides of a transaction."

He likened such a scenario to one in which an attorney attempted to represent both sides in a dispute. The business relationship is also more personal, he said.

"This is a service business," Friedrich added. "You've got to take care of the people who've put their trust in you. Typically people make decisions based on a relationship that they have."

The timing of the opening of the San Diego office of Cresa, though occurring during the recent economic downturn, was fortuitous.

It was November of 2007 when The Sande Company became Cresa San Diego. "This was the time when the market really started to decline," Friedrich recalled, "so the timing was very good for us. We had a significant amount of corporate account-type business coming in from other Cresa offices that we were able to work on."

These included companies such as Medtronic, Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems.

"Because of the depth of the Cresa organization, the global platform and the service lines that we offered our clients, we were also more effective in competing for new business," Friedrich added.

When assessing the San Diego commercial real estate market, Friedrich cited high-tech, biotech, defense and tourism as the chief office users, and doesn't foresee that profile changing.

As for post-downturn economy, "It seems like things have improved in the last couple of years," he said, "but the improvement is slow."

A paradigm shift does present itself, however.

"The way people use space is changing," Friedrich said. "With technology, they're finding ways to do more with less."

Factoring into this evolution are the accommodation of more people in smaller spaces, and increased popularity and integration of telecommuting.

Cresa is prepared. "We have an infrastructure that makes us uniquely qualified to handle corporate accounts," Friedrich said. With performance, he said, comes more clients.

"Quality helps you build your business. If you do an incredible job for clients, they're going to tell other people. I'm not aware of any advertising you can purchase that can top that."

By David L. Coddon, Special to the Daily Transcript